Tag Archives: American Red Cross uniforms for women

Butterick Fashions for August, 1917

American women had been reading about the active wartime roles of women in France and Germany since 1914. Here, a few months after the U.S. entered the first World War, softly feminine (although thick-waisted) styles appear beside clothes that look like uniforms.

Fashions from Butterick's Delineator magazine, August 1917.  During World War I, pseudo-military uniforms were shown for women who wanted to wear them while volunteering for war-related charities.

Fashions from Butterick’s Delineator magazine, August 1917.

During World War I, patterns for pseudo-military uniforms appeared for women who wanted to wear them while volunteering for war-related charities. (The Red Cross and other agencies soon prescribed their own — official — uniforms, with strict regulations about wearing them. Click here.) I’ll show these dresses and their descriptions in detail later in this post; first, here is the second full color fashion page from this issue of Delineator:

Another page of fashions from Butterick's Delineator Magazine, August, 1917.

Another page of fashions from Butterick’s Delineator magazine, August, 1917.

Some of these outfits are one-piece dresses, but often what looks like a dress turns out to be a blouse (sometimes called a “waist”) pattern with a separate skirt pattern. That allowed a great deal of customization, and I always enjoy seeing illustrations of the same skirt with several tops, or vice versa.

Starting at top left of the first color plate:

Blouse pattern NO. 9311 with skirt pattern No. 9318. Butterick's Delineator, August 1917.

Blouse pattern No. 9311 with skirt pattern No. 9318. Butterick’s Delineator, August 1917.

Butterick's description of 9311 and 9318; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Butterick’s description of 9311 and 9318; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

“It has the popular wide collar and large pockets…. A very good design for misses [i.e., teens] as well as women.”

Left, blouse 9330 with skirt 9073; right, coat 9324 with skirt 9318. Butterick patterns, Delineator,Aug. 1917.

Left, in pink:  blouse 9330 with skirt 9073; right, coat 9324 with skirt 9318. Butterick patterns, Delineator,Aug. 1917.

Blouse 9330 with skirt 9073, Butterick patterns in Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Blouse 9330 with skirt 9073, Butterick patterns in Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick 9330 and 9073, Aug. 1917. Delineator.

Description of Butterick 9330 and 9073, Aug. 1917. Delineator.

What makes this a “Russian Blouse?” I have no idea. Research project for somebody….

Coat pattern 9324 with skirt 9318, Butterick patterns in Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Coat pattern 9324 with skirt 9318, Butterick patterns in Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick patterns 9324 adn 9318; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick patterns 9324 and 9318; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

” ‘Who goes there?’ The answer — a new suit with smart military cape and pockets receives a salute from Fashion. . . . The cape is removable. . . The suit is a splendid design for misses [i.e., ages 15 to 20] as well as women.” This same skirt, No. 9311, was also shown with the long, dotted blouse No. 9311.

Butterick blouse pattern 9311 with skirt 9318. 1917.

Butterick blouse pattern 9311 with skirt 9318. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9317 and 9320, Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Butterick patterns 9317 and 9320, Delineator, Aug. 1917. “The coat has the popular large collar, [No kidding!] with two new outline possibilities….”

Description of Butterick patterns 9317 and 9320; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick patterns 9317 and 9320; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

The pattern descriptions page included two more contrasting styles, a loose embroidered dress beside another version of the piped coat with military pockets and insignia:

Butterick dress 9326; coat 9324 with skirt 9309. Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Butterick dress 9326; coat 9324 with skirt 9309. Delineator, Aug. 1917.

This is the same military-influenced coat, No. 9324, that was shown above in a tan, caped version.

Description of Butterick coat 9324 and skirt 9309, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick coat 9324 and skirt 9309, Aug. 1917.

“It is a splendid model for the woman who wants something newer and more picturesque than the severely tailored suit.” [Top it with a Rough Riders hat?]

Description of dress 9326, Butterick's Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description of dress 9326, Butterick’s Delineator, Aug. 1917. “The deep pouch pockets and long narrow sash-belt are popular parts of the one-piece look.”

The one-piece dress above, No. 9326, has big, triangular, embroidered pockets something like this one, shown in color:

Description for Butterick dress pattern 9335; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description for Butterick dress pattern 9335; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick dress 9335, Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick dress 9335, Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Dress patterns 9323 and 9331, Butterick. Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Dress patterns 9323 and 9331, Butterick. Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick pattern 9323; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick pattern 9323; Delineator, Aug. 1917. “The modern woman buckles on her armor . . . .”

Altenate views of Butterick 9323 and 9331, Aug. 1917.

Alternate views of Butterick 9323 and 9331, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick pattern 9331, Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick pattern 9331, Aug. 1917.

It’s interesting that the blue dress, No. 9323, is described as appealing “to the woman who does not care for the one-piece frocks.” But it is a one-piece frock, with several sleeve variations.  The checked dress, No. 9331, has a more complicated cut than you would think from the color illustration. This issue of Delineator had a separate article about gingham dresses.

Butterick pattern 9321, Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Butterick pattern 9321, Delineator, Aug. 1917.

This blue and tan dress is worn with an exaggerated military cap; Butterick also sold embroidery transfers for military insignia like the one on this dress’s sleeve.

Description of Butterick patern 9321 from August, 1917.

Description of Butterick patern 9321 from August, 1917.

“The attractive military lines . . .  military pockets and collar  . . . maintain the martial spirit. . . . It is pretty for a young girl. . . . Sizes 32 to 44 inches bust measure.”

Two more black and white illustrations appeared with the descriptions of the color images on page 43.

Both are waist and skirt combinations, and both outfits use the same skirt pattern, No. 9316. When the folds are buttoned together, as on the left, it is called an “envelope effect.”

Butterick dress patterns 9340 and 9316; Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Left:  Butterick dress patterns 9340 and 9316. Right:  waist 9350 and skirt 9316. Delineator, Aug. 1917.

Butterick pattern 9340 and 9316 on the left. Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick waist [blouse] pattern 9340 and skirt 9316, above on the left. Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick waist pattern 9360 with skirt 9316. Aug. 1917.

Description of Butterick waist pattern 9360 with skirt 9316, illustrated above on the right. Aug. 1917.

It’s possible that the Delineator magazine was especially militaristic, but this coat ad from the Ladies’ Home Journal also shows a military influence on women’s ready-to-wear:

Ad for Hamilton coats, Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

Ad for Hamilton coats, Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct. 1917.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes, World War I

“Original and Becoming” Work Clothes, 1917

Work clothes for women suggested by Ladies Home Journal, Sept. 1917

Some work clothes for women suggested by Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917. Illus. signed Sheldon.

This article suggests seven different work outfits suitable for American women in wartime. One of them, surprisingly, is a dress with a divided skirt — what would later be called a culotte skirt. Sadly, although the Ladies’ Home Journal sold its own mail order patterns, none of these outfits has a pattern number. The article is “editorial,” suggesting that outfits which would have been rather shocking a few months earlier may now be “safely” worn on the streets and in the stores of an America at war. I’ll show an overview first, and then describe each outfit with its accompanying text. Except where noted, all illustrations are from the same Ladies’ Home Journal article, dated September 1917. 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr 5001917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants btm text 500

Women in Trousers, 1917

Women were already wearing bloomers for gym classes and jodhpurs or riding breeches when on horseback. In July of 1917, a rival fashion magazine, Delineator, had suggested that a sort of trouser outfit might be worn for housework:

Butteric pattern No. 9294 for a smock dress over bloomers. Delineator, July 1917.

Butterick pattern No. 9294 for a smock dress over bloomers. House-dress No. 9288 is on the right. Delineator, July 1917.

“For the home-reserve corps comes this new costume (design 9294) suited to the woman who wants to go on active service — either at home, out camping, or for gardening.” The house-dress next to it shows a typical hem length for women. As skirts became shorter, they were usually worn with opaque stockings or boots.

The bloomer outfit above, with gathered cuffs, is a close relative of women’s pajamas like these, also from 1917 :

Butterick pajama pattern No. 9400, Sept 1917. Delineator magazine.

Butterick pajama pattern No. 9400, Sept 1917. Delineator magazine.

The Ladies’ Home Journal Suggests Some Trouser Outfits for 1917

“Even the most inveterate feminine ‘slacker’ will be lured into laborious occupations if such fascinating uniforms as these are to be worn.” [After World War I began in August, 1914, women in Europe began filling traditionally male occupations in order to free men for military service. “Land girls” worked on farms; women became train and street car conductors, munitions workers, heavy equipment operators, etc.]

1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants top left breeches“[These] trig knee-buttoned trousers …, worn with a laced skirted blouse, tam and laced high boots, were designed for an ardent motorist. Surely even the most stubborn opposition could be overcome at sight of these!” For an official Red Cross Motor Corps Woman’s Uniform, click here.1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants top right“It may be that the fair farm maid . . . has paused dissatisfied with her work, but surely no doubt could lurk in her mind as to the fitness of her well-made olive-drab khaki suit. Side fullness given by plaits [pleats] begins at the underarm and ends at the hem.” lhj 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr rake“[Above] One may rake, pile, and burn autumn leaves  in the serene consciousness that no flickering flame will catch on the strapped leggings worn with [this] pocketed bloomer suit. . . .” 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr“Indoors expediency demands simplified dressing, and the adoption of such an attractive combination — apron, blouse, divided skirt — as shown above . . . made of ticking, may do much to encourage women to take up their housework seriously.” [Note the unusual “divided skirt!” In 1917, the word apron could refer to a garment we would now call a dress.] 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants btm left shopping“When marketing is part of the day’s routine, a long tucked smock of khaki with wide-bottom trousers… makes a work outfit one could safely venture out in.” [Think about what is implied by “safely.” The government encouraged women to collect their own groceries rather than having them delivered, freeing the deliverymen for active service.] lhj 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm pants ctr right“Strapped leggings, a high buttoned collar, hip pockets and wrist straps effectively suppress any loophole which may hint of feminine softness in [this] public service uniform.” Oh, really ? Her pose makes me wonder exactly what public service she is performing! For official Red Cross service uniforms, click here. 1917 sept p 89 work clothes farm btm rt outfit“Indoors or out, one could find many reasons why and times when just such a quaint smock and short skirt as [these] could be worn.”  I don’t know what the editors of Ladies’ Home Journal were thinking, but the Red Cross did not allow women younger than 23 to serve coffee and doughnuts to the troops. They had their reasons. Although artistic, this leg-baring outfit might be subject to misinterpretation.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Nightclothes and Robes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes, Vintage patterns, Women in Trousers, World War I

American Red Cross Service Uniforms, 1917

New Authorized Red Cross Uniforms, September, 1917 Ladies' Home Journal, p. 5.

New Authorized American Red Cross Uniforms, September, 1917 Ladies’ Home Journal, p. 5.

After the U.S. declared war in April of 1917, there was a great outpouring of volunteerism.  Women were eager to support “our boys,” and magazines aimed at female readers were a perfect, pre-existing medium for the government to communicate with millions of households all over the country. Official articles like the ones quoted here appeared in both Butterick’s Delineator and  Ladies’ Home Journal, among others.

Women Wanted to Wear Uniforms, Too

So many women wanted to wear some type of official uniform while doing “war work” that cautions were repeatedly issued.

Official Red Cross policy statement by William Taft, Chair of Central Committee, August 1917 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

Official Red Cross policy statement by William Taft, Chair of Central Committee, August 1917 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

The new, authorized Red Cross Corps uniforms (pictured above) were described in September, but the problem of unauthorized used arose again in October:

Ladies Home Journal, October 1917, page 33.

Ladies Home Journal, October 1917, page 33.

Clearly, there were unscrupulous people “raising money for the Red Cross” but not turning over all the proceeds to the charity. “Red Cross Bazaars” had to have prior approval at the local level or use of the name was not permitted. And only members of the Red Cross who had taken a loyalty oath and met other requirements could wear Red Cross uniforms.

There was a difference between being a Corps Member and being a Red Cross Nurse — only women who had completed two years of nursing training, who had an additional two years practical nursing experience, and who were registered nurses in their own state could apply to be a Red Cross Nurse. However, there were many other vital ways for a woman to serve through the Red Cross. Wearing any of these Corps uniforms required a permit.

American Red Cross Supply Corps Uniform & Clerical Corps Uniform, 1917

Red Cross Supply Corps and Clerical Corps Uniforms, Sept. 1917. Ladies' Home Journal.

Red Cross Supply Corps and Clerical Corps Uniforms, Sept. 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal.

Supply Corps Uniform

Supply Corps Uniform, American Red Cross, 1917.

Supply Corps Uniform, American Red Cross, 1917.

“In this division of Red Cross Work the service of the members is to prepare surgical dressings, hospital garments and all other Red Cross supplies. The uniform is a white dress, or a white waist [i.e., blouse] and skirt, with dark blue veil and white shoes. Small Red Cross emblems are worn on the veil and on the left front of the dress. The arm band is dark blue, with a horn of plenty embroidered in white.” [Her scalloped collar gives the impression that she is wearing white clothing she already owned with the uniform head covering and armband.]

Women who wondered why they had to wear a head covering while making bandages and dressings were reminded that this was necessary “for sanitary reasons;” “she must also wear an apron for the same purpose.” lhj 1917 p 33 oct war needs pajamaslhj 1917 p 33 oct war needs surgeon operatingThe Demand for Bandages:  “The Red Cross could send all its available supply to Europe for instant use there and start all over again. . . .Wounded soldiers in France to-day are being bandaged with straw and old newspapers.” — William Howard Taft in Ladies’ Home Journal, August, 1917.

The official Red Cross patterns for making pajamas, surgeon’s gowns, etc., were available from pattern companies, stores, or Red Cross Chapters for 10 cents each.

Clerical Corps Uniform

Supply Corps Uniform of the American Red Cross, September 1917, Ladies' Home Journal.

Clerical Corps Uniform of the American Red Cross, September 1917, Ladies’ Home Journal.

“This service is designed to include the women who do the large amount of clerical work in an active Red Cross Chapter — the volunteer stenographers, bookkeepers, etc.  The uniform consists of a one-piece gray chambray dress, a white, broad collar, white duck hat with yellow band, and white shoes.  The Red Cross emblem is worn on the hat and on the left front of the dress, while the arm band is yellow, with two crossed quill pens embroidered in white.”

By October, the national headquarters of the American Red Cross was receiving 15,000 letters per day. To cope, it was decentralized, with thirteen divisions spread to large cities throughout the U.S.  When you consider that women all over the country were being asked to roll bandages, to make hospital garments and supplies such as sheets and pillowcases, to knit warm scarves, sweaters and socks for servicemen, and to supply 200,000,000 “comfort kits” for soldiers, you can imagine the logistical nightmare of shipping and sorting that had to be done by the Supply Corps and the Clerical Corps.  Shipping companies agreed to deliver packages addressed to the thirteen Red Cross collecting centers for two thirds the usual price, but all shipments from local Red Cross chapters had to have separate notices of shipment mailed, as well.

American Red Cross Refreshment Corps and Motor Corps Uniforms, 1917

Refreshment Corps and Motor Corps Uniforms, AMC, Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Refreshment Corps and Motor Corps Uniforms, AMC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Refreshment Corps Uniform

Refreshment Corps Uniform, AMC, 1917. Ladies' Home Journal.

Refreshment Corps Uniform, AMC, 1917. Ladies’ Home Journal.

“The Corps feeds soldiers passing in troop movement or en route to a hospital, or furnishes lunches in the way of extras to troops in near-by camps. The uniform is a dark blue and white striped chambray dress, long white apron with bib, white duck helmet with dark blue veiling, and tan shoes.  The arm band is dark blue, with a cup embroidered in white. A large Red Cross emblem is worn on the apron bib and a small one on the helmet.”

Presumably because of the dangers of fraternization, “no person under 23 years of age may be a member of the Refreshment Corps.” Also, because attempts had been made “to injure our soldiers through tampering with Red Cross articles,” all foodstuffs had to be prepared in supervised kitchens and “by persons whose devotion to the United States can be vouched for.” (Taft, October 1917.)

Motor Corps Uniform

Motor Corps Uniform, American Red Cross, 1917.

Motor Corps Uniform, American Red Cross, 1917.

“All women volunteer drivers for Chapter work are included in this service. Members may or may not furnish their own cars. The uniform is a long gray cloth coat with a tan leather belt, a close-fitting hat of the same material, riding breeches, tan puttees or canvas leggings and tan shoes. The Red Cross emblem is worn on the hat.  The arm band is light green embroidered in white.”

Motor Corps Puttees or Canvas leggings worn with riding breeches.  Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Motor Corps Puttees or Canvas leggings worn with riding breeches. Ladies’ Home Journal, Sept. 1917.

Although her riding breeches are modestly covered by the length of the coat, this is a variation on a male chauffeur’s uniform. Most cars were open (and cold) in 1917. Whether or not you supplied your own vehicle for transporting troops, this uniform had to be purchased, not home-made. It cost about $25.

Who Can Wear These Red Cross Uniforms?

lhj 1917 sept p 5 Red cross uniform rule top hallf 500

Text of article announcing the new American Red Cross Corps Uniforms, Sept. 1917, Ladies' Home Journal, page 5.

Text of article announcing the new American Red Cross Corps Uniforms, Sept. 1917, Ladies’ Home Journal, page 5.

American Red Cross Nurses Uniforms

Alessandra Kelley, who writes the blog Confessions of a Postmodern Pre-Raphaelite, found a 1918 copy of The Red Cross Magazine with pictures and descriptions of the official uniforms for Red Cross nurses at home and serving overseas. She kindly photographed it in detail for the use of historians and re-enactors. Click here for a link to her great post about Nurses Uniforms.

I have also written about the U.S. Food Administration Uniform, 1917.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Uniforms and Work Clothes